Thursday, May 6, 2010

Brit Voters in a Foul Mood

Today the Brits go to the polls to elect a new government. The polls are still tight, showing the Tories (the nickname for the Conservative Party comes from the Irish for outlaw or robber) in the lead by six to eight points with a mere 36 to 38 percent of the vote.

But of course, nobody knows what will happen, because it all depends on the turnout. Are Conservative voters mad as hell about the utter failure of the Labour government that started with Wordsworthian bliss thirteen years ago? Will "middle Britain switch back from Labour to Tory? Will Labour voters turn out to vote for the party that told them they were bigots? Just how many of the people that got all a-shiver over the Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg at the TV debate a couple of weeks ago will actually get to the polling booth?

That's the point of elections. After the campaigning and punditry is done, it comes down to the voters. My prediction is that Labour voters will be just a little less enthusiastic and Conservative voters just a little more enthusiastic than the pollsters' turnout models assume.

The big question is whether the winning David Cameron can convince the people of Britain to knuckle under to swingeing spending cuts like the Irish. Or whether the government workers will take to the streets as they have in Greece.

The great failing of Margaret Thatcher was that she failed to persuade the great middle of Britain that her Thatcherite policies were really best for all Britons. She always found herself in a fight. Maybe back then it was inevitable. Someone had to face down the coal-miners union in the epic strike of the 1980s.

But the trick for David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party in Britain, is to persuade the Brits that they are all in this together. That everyone must sacrifice, and all will benefit. That is what government is for, after all. It is there to rally the people in the face of military invasion or natural disaster. It is there to trigger the social-animal instincts and rally the nation when it is threatened.

Can he do it? We'll have to wait and see. Voters have a funny way of voting in exactly the person they need to get them out of a jam. Think of Ronald Reagan. But Britain is not the US, and it doesn't have quite the special dispensation that looks after children, drunks, and the US of A.

Meanwhile, the British people are voting, and for the moment, nobody knows anything.

1 comment:

  1. Something tells me this election is not as important as an election yet to come. There just isn't that much difference between the 3 major parties. How far Britain travels down the road to poverty and social chaos will determine the outcome of that future election. And I suspect, if that dark day comes, the differences between the parties will be stark indeed.